17 November 2015

Nurses say treating patients with preventable health problems is never a waste

Nurses who joined a recent #NurChat twitter discussion voiced their unanimous commitment to the principle that it is never acceptable to view patients with potentially preventable health problems as a waste of time and resources.

Potentially preventable health complications often come from obesity, smoking, alcohol and substance addiction as well poor diet and a lack of exercise. As the volume of patients experiencing lifestyle-related health issues continues to rise, so too will the cost of treating them. This could be as much as £5billion a year by 2018.

A holistic and compassionate approach underpins many nursing values, one of which is to treat every patient indiscriminately and without judgement. It’s a core part of the NMC Code of Conduct and reflects the consideration given to the individual’s situation, their challenges and health needs in the absence of any thoughts of the choices that individual has made.

The Wanless Report from 2002 first highlighted how critical it was to increase investment in preventative activities in order to reduce treatment costs and achieve better levels of public health. Weight management, exercise programmes and stop smoking services are just some of the much-needed local services that work to keep people healthy, yet budget cuts seem to be affecting them as local authorities seek to achieve the £200m saving needed this year.

Nurses in the #NurChat discussion all shared how important it is to consider why patients who make unhealthy choices do so and how they can be supported in the future to make better choices. Even when those positive choices don’t always go to plan, spending time and resources treating every patient is never a waste.

The next #NurChat discussion is on 24th November 2015 at 8pm GMT.